Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Smith & Wesson's Comeback

You could've knocked me over with a feather. The New York Times actually has a straight forward article about a gun company, Smith & Wesson, in today's newspaper (registration may be required). It's in the business section, so there is relatively little editorializing.

The writer, Leslie Wayne, made a few errors. She (or he) described civilian gun sales as flat. I don't have all the facts to dispute that assertion, but I've read that sales are climbing up. There is a little snarkiness when it mentions the death of Winchester in Connecticut and some gun banner has to give his two cents. Still, the article points out that guns are durable items and that’s a valid point.

The writer states that Smith & Wesson is a comeback story. It mentions the boycott in response to the infamous 2000 agreement with the Clinton administration. Somewhat inaccurately, it states that NRA led it. Instead it was a consumer boycott and one of the few effective ones and NRA had little to do with it (one more example of non-gunnie’s view on NRA as giving us gunnies marching orders).

The article mentioned that the owner at the time of the boycott, Tompkins of Great Britain, had bought Smith & Wesson for about $112 million and sold it for $15 million. In other words, they took a bath.

Now Smith & Wesson’s stock price is rising. Its name is all over the marketplace and it’s introducing new products. It is hoping to capitalize on government sales. They have hired lobbyists and have made “buy American” arguments.

There’s a multimedia graphic feature in the article’s sidebar. I couldn’t listen to the narration (I’m at work and posting during a break), but the pictures are interesting. You’ll see Dirty Harry, the factory floor, and a picture of the new company president, Michael Golden, who had never shot a gun until Smith & Wesson hired him.

Now, I don’t know why they couldn’t have found a gunnie to run the company, but if he knows how to sell things then more power to him and Smith & Wesson. Go give the article a read.

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